"My first piece of advice is to smile more. You will feel better about yourself because a smile helps keep you positive."
Working on a farm, Nola (NOLAHORSERIDER) was used to days filled with chores like unloading hay, cutting tree limbs and fixing fences. As she gained weight, those chores became increasingly difficult. She recalls using rash cream where her skin would rub just so that she could mow the pastures. These difficulties, combined with inspiration from her sister who lost weight, gave Nola the push she needed to begin her weight-loss journey.
Nola joined SparkPeople in 2014 and lost almost 40 pounds in six months. She was proud of herself, had more energy and her clothes were too big. But the celebration was short-lived as the weight started to creep back on. "I got lazy," Nola recalls. "I stopped doing the things I did to lose the weight to begin with. I stopped tracking my food, was eating out too often and fell back into old habits. It took two years for the weight to return, but eventually I regained almost 30 of the 40 pounds I'd lost. I was ashamed and disheartened."
Nola never gave up on SparkPeople, though, and started reading motivational blogs and success stories to find the inspiration to begin again. She developed a new style of eating and utilized the tools offered by SparkPeople Premium to eventually reach her goal weight of 120 pounds, a 50-pound loss. Nola's SparkPage photo gallery shows her amazing progress. "I'm now in maintenance," Nola proudly declares.
Nola's 4 Tips for Weight Loss Success
Nola has plenty of advice that helped her lose the weight and successfully transition into lifelong maintenance.
After more than four years on SparkPeople, Nola has no intentions of leaving. "I have told everyone who will listen that I absolutely love SparkPeople. There are so many helpful tools, videos, exercises, blogs and articles to utilize—all for free! You just need to take the first step to check out the tools and features available that will set you on a path to lose the weight and also to maintain that weight. I have hundreds of SparkFriends who motivate and inspire me. They always seem to have my back, as I have theirs!"
- If you don't lose every week, don't fret. Take your measurements and know that changes are happening even if the scale isn't moving. "I kept my journey visible through pictures, both 'before' pictures and as I lost. My weight didn't come on overnight and it sure isn't coming off overnight," she says. As with any weight-loss journey, expect peaks and valleys. "If I become disappointed with the scale, I just remember that the scale is not going to dictate my life. I really don't care what the scale says. I only care how my clothes fit!"
- Make lists. Make a list of why you want to lose weight and keep that list where you will see it often. Make another list of the small obtainable goals you can reach daily as you start the journey. For example, set small goals like drinking eight glasses of water, exercising for 10 minutes and tracking the food you eat. "Baby steps, always," Nola reminds herself. Nola makes a daily list of her goals and checks them off as she accomplishes them. At the end of the week, she feels proud of all of the good things she's done.
- Become informed about nutrition. "Be aware of the ingredients in the foods you eat," she says. Reading labels is so important these days. "Eat lots of green vegetables. I call it going green! I believe that any diet should require lots of green vegetables like kale, romaine, spinach, avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers... you choose what you like."
- Attitude is everything. "Some of the important keys to my success have been consistency (tracking daily), determination (preparing for the ups and downs), daily exercise, wearing a smile and removing anything negative from my life," Nola says. "I am told that I am an inspiration to others, not just on SparkPeople, but outside as well. I love to smile and make others smile. I have been able to empathize with people by putting myself in their shoes for as long as I can remember. How would I feel if that was me? One of my best friends says I motivate and inspire her just being with me. I don't know about that, but I do like to make people feel good about themselves."
Nola believes that you can do anything you put your mind to—all it takes is that first step.
How do you maintain your smile when times get tough? Share in the comments below and also congratulate Nola for her amazing success!